Beautiful Pavlova

Pavlova

A pavlova is one of those desserts one can whip up in 15 minutes, pop in the oven before dinner guests start arriving, and have for dessert a couple of hours or so later. Or, more often than not in my case, whenever your guests stop feeling so stuffed from dinner and start feeling like they have room in their stomachs for dessert. Or make the meringue ahead and keep it in an airtight container for a day or two (depending on the humidity in your area), and then put it all together just before serving.

My first encounter with Pavlova was, aptly, in Australia. I won’t get into the tussle as to where it originates from exactly, but this dish is definitely one loved by many Australians as well as New Zealanders. I had my very first taste of it in a little café somewhere in Melbourne. Granted, the way the café made it wasn’t something memorable, but I was immediately struck by the possibilities of the dessert.

The sweet meringue base is mild enough to be the foundation of a multitude of flavours, and pairs well with lightly sweetened whipped cream, fruit, fruit-based curds, etc. There’s something about the sweet crisp base combined with the billowy cream and the tart-sweetness of fruit that is a winning combination. Continue reading

How to Peel Hazelnuts

Hazelnuts 7

One might think it a simple affair.

Buy raw hazelnuts, de-skin and roast, use in recipe. One might think it would be straight-forward and fuss-free. One would, as I quickly found out, sadly, be wrong.

After buying raw hazelnuts a couple of weeks ago, they’ve been languishing in my pantry looking balefully at me every time I open the cupboard and reach unerringly for something else. Deciding that I had better get a move on with experimenting with my list of hazelnut-based recipes before the nuts decided to revolt entirely (read go stale), I opened the bag and decided to see what I could make with them.

Since most recipes that include hazelnuts call for them to be skinless and roasted, I began to do just that. (Skinless, because their skins are bitter, and roasted, because this brings their oils out and increases their flavour immensely.) And immediately discovered how difficult it is to try and peel the skins off the darn things! Continue reading